Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Sunday, May 6, 2001

Batter up for
your favorite kid

EVER THOUGHT about swinging for the fences? This is the chance to step up to the plate for your favorite kid.

Instead of digging into those specially marked boxes of Ritz crackers or Oreo cookies for a chance at having Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey Jr. show up in your backyard, try going yard -- or rather to the yard -- for this year's All-Star Game at Seattle's Safeco Field.

In one of the coolest contests that have come along in a while, Nabisco is sponsoring the search for "America's Greatest Baseball Fan.''

The rules are simple: Send a postcard, nominating a child between the age of 5-17, whom you consider the greatest baseball fan in the country. On the back, explain why this youngster deserves a family trip for four to the game.

Maybe your card will be picked. Maybe it won't.

Maybe all you'll win is a chance to step down into your dugout of memories of why baseball is so special to your favorite kid. And to yourself.

Regardless of what Generation XFL says, baseball is still America's pastime.

It's why we'll watch "Field of Dreams'' or "Pride of the Yankees'' or even "A League of Their Own'' over and over.

It's why, after a week of working on a newspaper's sports sections, one might spend the one night off sitting in front of the TV and watching "61*'' on HBO.

And not just watching. Being mesmerized by the story of the chase by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to break Babe Ruth's home run record of 60 in 1961.

It's baseball. And it's so much more than a game.

It's about memories.

Of watching that cartoon bear hawking beer for the Milwaukee Brewers (from the land of sky-blue waters) on television with your dad. Of remembering Vin Scully as the ad-man for Farmer John Sausage, doing commercials between innings of the (hated) Los Angeles Dodgers games.

It's why a slight smile breaks out when Dave Winfield says he'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Padre. It's why Tony Gwynn will always be a hero for his years of loyalty to San Diego.

IT'S WHY YOU UNDERSTAND when your colleague's honeymoon this summer includes a game at PacBell Park. And why you sympathize with him when his bride-to-be won't agree to a game in Los Angeles as part of their romantic drive down the California coast.

It's why, as a sportswriter, some of the best times were spent covering the Hawaii Islanders' last home series in 1987 and the University of Hawaii Rainbows in 1992.

And it's why, when your baseball-loving son doesn't want to pick up a glove for the first time in the past 10 springs, you get a little sad.

And you want to enter this contest. Not just for him, but for yourself.

To remember that little boy who slept with his glove, who shook off signals from an imaginary catcher in the backyard and who had a fantasy league going, with his baseball cards playing interleague games.

Oh, and about that postcard. The address is: Ritz/Oreo America's Greatest Baseball Fan, Box 281, 847-A Second Avenue, New York, N.Y., 10017. The postmark deadline is June 18.

Batter up.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears periodically.
Email Cindy:

E-mail to Sports Editor

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